If you’d like to take a vacation in a beautiful historic city in eastern Ontario and, while you’re there, conquer the St. Lawrence, one of Canada’s most majestic rivers, check out the Thousand Islands Triathlon.
“This triathlon has a long history in Brockville and the swim, bike and run courses showcase some of the best features of our city,” says Brockville mayor and recreational cyclist Dave Henderson.
The first Thousand Islands Triathlon was held in Gananoque in the summer of 1993. Three years later Somersault Promotions, which puts on the event in cooperation with the Brockville and Area YMCA as part of Somersault’s annual nine-triathlon series in eastern Ontario, moved the race 50 kilometers downriver to its current location.
The transition zone is on the Brockville waterfront beside the Brockville Rowing Club and across from The Three Sisters, the first three islands in the Thousand Islands. The open-water swim is close to shore, well out of the channel, but still allowing a great view of any passing ships using the seaway. The Brockville Kayak Club provides support on the swim course. Water clarity in the river is usually excellent and there are few, if any, weeds. Swimmers exit the water at a boat ramp with lots of help from volunteers. Cyclists leaving the transition zone ride a short distance along Water Street before heading up a steep hill to King Street (also known as Highway 2) and pedaling east toward Prescott. The out-and-back bike course is not closed, but traffic is light on Sunday morning. The last kilometer of the bike course on King Street is pleasantly downhill. The run route is through shaded residential streets and on pathways near the river, and the finish line is on Water Street directly over top of Canada’s first railway tunnel.
Local race director Beth Steel, also the director of health, fitness and recreation at the Brockville Y, says helping put on the Brockville tri is a perfect fit for her organization. “We have lots of experience organizing races, plus access to volunteers, and part of our mission is to get out into the community to promote healthy living.”
The Brockville Y offers a four-evening Triathlon Transitions course taught by a triathlete on staff. “We have very active cycling and running groups here in Brockville and the idea was to help those local athletes transition to the sport of triathlon in preparation for this race,” Steel explains.
She says with the cooperation of Tourism Brockville and the downtown business improvement association, accommodation and retail deals are offered to out-of-town participants. Last year there were 550 entrants in the Thousand Islands Tri events and Steel is expecting at least as many this year.
Anyone who would like to participate in the Thousand Islands Triathlon has eight triathlon-themed races and three running races to choose from. Of special interest to triathletes with running injuries or joint problems are Somersault’s signature SwimCycle events. “We introduced SwimCycle races for the first time several years ago when a friend with a bad knee told us he was going to enter one of our triathlons, but only do the swim and the cycle portions,” Somersault Promotions co-owner Terry McKinty explains. “Rather than have him not finish, I developed the SwimCycle format, which allows a person who can’t, or doesn’t, want to run to enter and complete a race.” SwimCycle participants rack their bike and run directly from the transition zone to the finish line.
The Thousand Islands Triathlon also includes the Brockville Downtown 5Km Run and 10Km Run, and the Wylie Ryan 1Km for Kids. Each participant in the kids’ run receives a T-shirt, an individualized race bib and a medal.
Somersault Promotions offers early season entry fee discounts as well as student and senior discounts. For more information, please go to https://somersault.ca/event1000islands.htm.-TW
In addition to an Olympic tri and a sprint tri, plus the downtown runs, Somersault Promotions usually offers these events at the Thousand Islands Triathlon:
Olympic Swim – 1500m swim
Olympic SwimCycle – 1500m swim / 40.2km cycle
Sprint SwimCycle – 750m swim / 20.7km cycle
Try a Tri – 200m swim / 20.7km cycle / 2.3km run
Super Sprint – 200m swim / 20.7km cycle / 5km run
Sprint Duathlon – 2.3km run / 20.7km cycle / 5km Run